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Back in January, you probably made that goal: go to the gym on a regular basis. Your hopes were high. But probably around February or March, it became more of a nagging thought in the back of your head than something you were actually doing.
If going to the gym regularly is hard to fit into your schedule, try these 12 tips to stay fit without going to the gym.
1. Take the Stairs
Elevators are really nice, but they don’t motivate us to move. To increase your heart rate at the beginning and end of your work day, try to use the stairs as much as you can. Even when taking an escalator, you can walk up instead of standing and letting the machine do the work. Walking around the mall? Walk up and down the stairs and zig-zag between the stores to get more steps in.
2. Walk When You’re on the Phone
When you’re on the phone at work or at home, walk in a line back and forth. This will keep you moving during a time when you might just be sitting. Stagnation harms the body. Sitting for too long has been linked to obesity and other health conditions, so try not to sit as much throughout your day. Try to figure out tasks that you can stand and do instead of sitting for hours during your work day.
3. Join a Neighborhood Sports Team
Is going to the gym hard for you because you dislike working out alone? You might be a more social person, so try joining a neighborhood sports team. It could be ultimate Frisbee one night a week or a soccer league that participates in regional tournaments. If you need people to give you motivation, a sports team might be an excellent opportunity.
4. Walk or Bike to Work Instead of Driving
If you have the ability to walk or bike to work instead of drive, take advantage of it. Enjoy the outside before you are stuck in a building in front of a computer. If you have to drive to work, try parking a mile or more away from your building and then walking to work. Look into public transportation, which might require some walking. This will get your heart rate up at the beginning and end of the day.
5. Get a Dog or Walk Someone Else’s Dog
Man’s best friend is a great way to get exercise if you can’t or don’t want to go to the gym. You don’t even need to have your own dog to walk one. If your neighbors have a dog, ask them if you can take it for a walk once per week. Or you can research the local animal shelters to see if they need volunteers to walk dogs throughout the week.
6. Go Hiking
If you can’t make it to the gym on a regular basis, try to get out in nature. Going on a hike allows you to get away from the city and find peace and solitude from the multitudes of people you might be around constantly. Do a long trail or a hard trail—work at your own pace. When you’re out in nature, you don’t have to compare yourself to others around you like you do sometimes in the gym.
7. Take a Walking Tour of Your City
Have you ever gotten to know your local city? Schedule some time to take a walking tour of your city. Become an urban explorer and discover the hidden uniqueness that can be found in the city nearest you. This is a great way to get your heart rate up while enjoying some window shopping or people watching.
8. Volunteer in the Community
Your local community might have opportunities for you to get your heart rate up in order to stay fit. Help out in a local community garden, volunteer to help build a home for Habitat for Humanity, talk to the Parks and Recreation department and offer your service to clean up a local park. All of these activities will get your heart rate up and get you out of the house.
9. Play Sports with Children
Kids always have energy. If you have children in your household, play sports with them. Whether it’s just running around kicking a ball or an intense game of one-on-one basketball, getting outside with your kids will be great for both you and them. If you don’t have children, get to know your neighbors and see if you can play sports with them and their children. You can also volunteer for community teenage sport teams.
10. Join a Dance Team
Dancing is a great way to get exercise. Find a local dance studio and see if it has a team you can join or lessons you can take. As you go to a dance class, you’ll be doing aerobic exercises that will keep your heart healthy.
11. Park Far Away from the Grocery Store
An easy way to insert more steps into your day is to park far away from the grocery store. The parking lot is always packed near the doors so choosing a parking stall further away means less time spent trying to find a place to park and a few extra steps. This will get you more aerobic exercise as you walk into the store for groceries and then out of the store with your bags.
12. Develop a Morning or Evening Home Workout Routine
Of course, if you can’t find the time or money to go to the gym but you still want to do traditional exercise, you can always develop a morning or evening workout that can happen at home. Remember to always have the five elements of fitness built into any routine: warmup, cardiovascular (aerobic) workout, resistance (strength-building) exercises, flexibility moves, and a cool down. Also, if you have any health conditions, consult your doctor before starting your personal workout routine to make sure the exercises you’ve chosen are safe for you to do.
Whether you’re not making it to the gym due to choice or circumstance, there are always ways to get exercise. Need more ideas? Start a conversation on Facebook or Twitter and ask your family and friends to list their favorite non-gym exercises or activities.